NIH Investing $29M to Address COVID-19 Disparities

The funds will help outreach to help strengthen COVID-19 vaccine confidence and access as well as treatment and testing in communities of color

May 4, 2021 – The National Institute of Health (NIH) announced an additional $29 million to the NIH Community Engagement Alliance (CEAL) Against COVID-19 Disparities.

These funds will be in the form of grants to support conducting research and outreach in communities of color. The goal of the outreach is to strengthen COVID-19 vaccine confidence and access. Funds will also be available to expand the testing and treatment of COVID-19 in communities of color.

Gary H. Gibbons, M.D., director, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) stated that “The goal of this effort is to foster community-engagement research in communities which have been hit hardest by the pandemic. The alliance is designed to meet people where they are with the help of trusted messengers, including family doctors, pastors, and community health workers, and to forge lasting partnerships to address health disparities.”

Funds Expand on Current COVID-19 Outreach Initiatives

The $29 million is expanding on funds that were already granted in 2020.

In 2020, eleven research teams in the CEAL Alliance were awarded $17 million in funds with the goal of:

  • Reaching residents at severe risk of COVID-19 in communities of color
  • Coordinating education outreach
  • Raising awareness about inclusive participation in COVID-19 testing
  • Supporting vaccine uptake and clinical trials
  • Conducting research to understand barriers surrounding prevention and treatment

The grants awarded in 2020 went to good use. Some funds were used for mobile units in the Mississippi Delta to provide rural residents access to vaccines. Similar strategies were implemented in California, Michigan, and other states with success.

The CEAL Alliance members also studied how to address mistrust in the scientific process and equitable distribution of resources in communities of color. These teams then shared research and collaborated on best practices.

“The most promising scientific discoveries benefit all populations and the way we ensure that is through inclusive research participation and community engagement,” said Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable, M.D., director, National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD). “CEAL researchers are creating the community-engaged model to transform research practice.”

$15 million of the additional $29 million proposed will go to these 11 teams that are already conducting research.

$14 Million Funding 10 New Research Teams

While $15 million will go to teams that already received funds in 2020, the remaining $14 million will fund 10 new research teams.

These teams will partner with other CEAL Alliance teams to strengthen national response to COVID-19 in communities of color.

The 10 new research teams joining the CEAL Alliance include:

  • University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
  • Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore
  • Washington University in St. Louis
  • Boston Medical Center
  • University of Puerto Rico Medical Sciences, San Juan
  • University of Illinois at Chicago
  • University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock
  • University of Colorado Denver
  • New York University School of Medicine, New York City
  • University of New Mexico, Albuquerque

These new teams will coordinate with the 11 original teams to continue addressing COVID-19 disparities in communities of color.

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The VBP Blog is a comprehensive resource for all things related to value-based payments. Up-to-date news, informative webinars, and relevant blogs in the VBP sphere to help your organization find success.